Pakistan denies N.Korea bribe for nuclear technology

ISLAMABAD, (Reuters) – A retired Pakistani general  strongly denied yesterday a report that he took $3 million in  cash in exchange for helping smuggle nuclear technology to North  Korea in the late 1990s, while the nation’s foreign office  called the story “preposterous.”

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Abdul Qadeer    Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, had released a copy   of a letter from a North Korean official dated 1998 detailing a    $3 million payment to Pakistan’s then-chief of army staff,    General Jehangir Karamat.

“I was not in the loop for any kind of influence and I would   have to be mad to sanction transfer of technology and for Dr    Khan to listen to me,” retired general Karamat told Reuters in  an email. The story, he said, is “totally false.”

In addition to the payment to Karamat, the letter says    Lieutenant-General Zulfiqar Khan, also now retired, was given a    half-million dollars and some jewellery. He also denied the    accusation.  “I have not read the story,” Khan told Reuters, “but of    course it is wrong.”   The Pakistan Army declined to comment. But Foreign Ministry    spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua told reporters at a weekly press    briefing that “such stories have a habit of recurring and my    only comment is that this is totally baseless and preposterous.”

Despite Pakistani protests, Western intelligence officials    said they believed the letter was authentic, the Post reported. It appears to be signed by North Korean Workers Party    Secretary Jon Byong, the newspaper said, and other details match   classified information previously unrevealed to the public.

In exchange for the money, generals Karamat and Khan were to   help Khan give documents on a nuclear program to North Korea,    the Post said.

The newspaper said it was unable to independently verify the   account.

Khan has admitted giving centrifuges and drawings that  helped    North Korea begin making a uranium-based bomb. It already has    nuclear weapons made with plutonium.

Former military leader General Pervez Musharraf wrote in his   memoir that Pakistan and North Korea were involved in    government-to-government cash transfers for North Korean    ballistic missile technology in the late 1990s, but he insisted    there was no official policy of reverse transfer of nuclear    technology to Pyongyang.

“I assured the world that the proliferation was a one-man    act and that neither the government of Pakistan nor the army was   involved,” Musharraf wrote. “This was the truth, and I could    speak forcefully.”

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